Balian's waves are often uncrowded.
There are yoga studios, wide beaches that are perfect for long walks – and the sunset here is dramatic.
For the majority travellers, Balian is the last stop on the road west... but we consider this quiet surf town to be the gateway to little-explored West Bali.
Balian is likely to be everything you want from a surf destination. The waves are often uncrowded; yoga classes are held daily; the road down to the beach is interspersed with a few bars and restaurants; and there are plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets. What we love is that around Balian there are some very special places to stay – villas so remarkable you'll probably travel to Balian specifically to stay in them (and our pick of them is, of course, included here).
There are essentially two parts to Balian; east of the river, and west of the river. Explore the area to the east of the river and you'll find many villas that are tucked quietly between palm trees. On the west of the river the road that leads down to the beach – Jalan Pantai Balian – is the hub for travellers, and it's around here that you'll find the majority of established hotels and restaurants.
If you're visiting Balian for the day, Pondok Pitaya is a good place to base yourself. So long as you spend some money at the restaurant, you'll be welcome to use their beachfront pool.
From Balian, the string of villages on the road towards Gilimanuk (the port town on the far western tip of Bali) becomes interspersed with lazy coconut groves and rice paddies. If you take your eyes off the often-potholed road for a moment you'll see the jungled hills that make this wild western part of Bali so special, and so different from the rest of the island.
The beach at Balian
Balian's broad grey-sand beach has always felt – to us, anyway – quite untamed. On the far western edge is a peninsula that juts out into the ocean; the spa at Gajah Mina Beach Resort stands on top here, and has spectacular views of the coast. From this peninsula, cliffs run 500m along to the eastern flank of the main beach, to where the wide Balian River enters the sea. The surf spot at Balian is between the peninsula and the river, and there are a few eateries up here that overlook the beach. After after some rain over the mountains, the river flows quite strongly but during drier times it's possible to walk east across the river, where an 800m stretch of beach is overlooked by a handful of villas and open fields.
BOOK A HOTEL IN BALIAN
Booking.com calls Balian 'Antasari'
Balian: local advice
...if you surf
There are some resident bullsharks off the coast of Balian, and over the past 10 years there has been the occasional shark attack at the break. Apparently, every attack was just after the rain, when the nearby river turned the sea brown and visibility was poor. According to locals, each attack seemed to have been a case of mistaken identity: the bullshark bit the surfers once, then left them alone. If you surf here be sensible: stay out when the water's dirty.
...if you yoga
There are usually a few classes held in Balian each day. Take a look at the Balian yoga page for more details..
...if you're hungry
Sushi Surf is a bar/restaurant right on the beach at Balian. It has excellent sushi, a good selection of cocktails and fantastic views across the coastline.
Airport to Balian: 55 km
Travel by car: about 2,5 hours
Cost: Rp500,000 with a driver